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Rules for Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

In recent years, we’ve seen a tremendous uptick in the number of people interested in indoor-outdoor spaces. These are areas of your home that straddle the gap between the outside areas (like your garden) and your interiors. People want to enjoy the open air while still retaining some of the comforts of indoor living. At the same time, they want a seamless transition between the two, especially in the summer months.

Creating an outdoor-indoor space, however, is anything but easy. You have to observe design rules like a hawk. In this post, we’re going to take a look at some of the principles that govern indoor-outdoor spaces so that you can create the perfect setup in your home.

Clearly Define Different Zones

Outdoor zones are not just generic spaces where “stuff happens.” Instead, every segment of the space needs to have a purpose, just like indoors. You might, for instance, want an area for cooking, another for sitting, and another for preparing drinks or playing bat-and-ball.

If you’re planning on costly renovations, you want to avoid dead space.

Defining different sections can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, but it is well worth it. There are plenty of ways that you can do it. Creating a row of planters, for instance, can separate one section from another. Similarly, putting down a rug under your outdoor coffee table, or a second rug in a dining area can define the visual boundary.

Orientate It For Natural Sunlight

Indoor-outdoor spaces should, ideally, face south if you live in the northern hemisphere. The reason for this is obvious: you get more sun. You don’t want the space to be in permanent shadow. Nor do you want to have to rearrange furniture throughout the day to catch the natural light.

Secondly, you’ll want to consider the prevailing winds and set up your shelter accordingly. If you live in an area subject to westerly breezes, you’ll want to set up walls, barriers, and windbreaks on the western side of the new living space. You don’t want the wind interfering with your reading or alfresco dining.

Set Up Your Shelter

All indoor-outdoor spaces need adequate shelter. You need protection from the rain and the sun. Homeowners tend to underuse open patios.

When it comes to shelter, you have a range of options. The simplest is just to set up a large, fold-out canopy. This solution requires little to no installation or setup fees. You buy a ready-made option and set it up, usually above your outdoor dining table.

The next option is to install a retractable canopy. These fit on your wall, usually above the doors leading to your outdoor space, and fold-out when you need them. They require a little work to set up but are a relatively inexpensive option.

The final type of covering is a fixed or permanent canopy that provides a combination of shelter and natural light. Here, you have a lot of styles and material options. Some people go for roofed areas that look like a continuation of their existing roofs. Others opt for wooden paneling with skylights.

Ensure That The Space Is Private

Pixabay - CC0 License

Indoor-outdoor spaces are great, but they can suffer from a lack of privacy. Peeking neighbors can easily see into your outdoor spaces, making you less willing to use them.

Establish A Cleaning Routine

Sorry to break it to you, but you can’t avoid cleaning your outdoor spaces. If you do, you’ll wind up with piles of leaves, weeds, dirt, and dust, making it appear far less attractive.

Cleaning your balcony is simple - if you have one. But cleaning a larger outdoor space requires a little extra thought. Weekly sweeping is essential. If you have an outdoor BBQ or hob, you’ll want to wipe that after every use. Once a month, you’ll want to wash your outdoor furniture with a soft-bristled brush and a hose. (It should be waterproof).

Use Attractive Outdoor Materials

The key to making an outdoor space look great is to use attractive materials that can withstand the weather. Stone is, of course, one option. Another is synthetic materials, like PVC. (Typically you find this material in modern outdoor recliners, allowing them to survive in the open air, no matter what the weather throws at them).

Right now, teak is a popular natural option. This breed of wood has an uncanny ability to withstand the weather, especially when treated. It’ll last outdoors for years and years, with very little in the way of care and maintenance. It even makes excellent furniture material.

Accessorize The Space

Whenever you see images of professional outdoor spaces in magazines or online, you always find them brimming with accessories.

When it comes to accessorizing your outdoor spaces, you have a bunch of exciting options. These include:
  • Garden statues that double up and centerpiece or frame your walkways
  • Outdoor wall art you can place on adjacent walls
  • Candles for keeping things cozy in the evening and at night. (Remember to buy candle shelters to prevent the wind from blowing them out).
  • Wind chimes to improve the sound environments
  • Pottery and urns to fill voids and help to complete the room
  • Outdoor pillows and cushions encourage you to make better use of the outdoor space and provide guests with comfortable seating.
  • Outdoor lighting features, such as variable LED string lighting

Add Plants

Including plants is the final task for creating the perfect outdoor-indoor space, whether a balcony, patio, or veranda. You want the area to feel like more than just an extra room in your house. It should, ideally, be a hybrid between your indoor and outdoor spaces.

You will often see premium homes that feature very few plants in their outdoor spaces. This aesthetic, however, makes them feel overly clinical and drab. Ideally, you want a place that helps you relax too - and that’s where pot plants can help.

So, there you have it: our rules for indoor-outdoor spaces. Obey them, and you’ll wind up with something that looks and feels great!

Would you like to comment?

  1. These are some great ideas! I love this kind of stuff (:

  2. Fabulous outdoor space ideas. I am a freelance interior designer. The above design rules would serve as a great source of inspiration for my design projects. It is very true that row planters help to define different zones. I must work on including the right lighting options.

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